After so much rigmarole and the seeming incompetence of some officials in-charge of our vaccine procurement program, the donation of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine from China finally arrived last Sunday.
Now we have joined the rest of the countries in Southeast Asia to roll out an inoculation program even if the volume of vaccines available is only a fraction of what we need to vaccinate some 70 million Filipinos, out of our 110 million population, in order to achieve a herd immunity from the virus.
The 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine which was supposed to arrive the following day was delayed “due to supply problems,” according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque. The vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca in the United Kingdom is made possible by COVAX facility which is a United Nations-led vaccine sharing scheme.
While Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez has already been vaccinated with Sinovac, President Duterte preferred to wait for another China-made vaccine, Sinopharm, for his inoculation and that of his family.
In contrast to Duterte, Indonesian President Widodo and Turkish President Erdogan have themselves publicly vaccinated with Sinovac, their choice of vaccine for their citizens.
Reports that some frontliners in government hospitals have experienced adverse effects including one who collapsed after being given the jab were disturbing but health officials have assured us that these are minor cases and should not alarm our people.
There are conflicting reports about the efficacy of Sinovac. Some say that its efficacy rate is only 50.4 percent but there are those who are saying that it has 100 percent efficacy against severe COVID-19 cases. If two of the world’s largest countries have opted to use Sinovac, then the China-made vaccine is deemed effective and safe.
But some frontliners from the Philippine General Hospital have earlier staged a rally expressing their preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which will also come from the COVAX facility. Delivery of 117,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine was delayed due to the lack of an indemnification agreement. This lapse has been corrected yet there is still no fixed date on the arrival of the U.S.-made vaccine.
We sincerely hope that the other vaccines will arrive soon so that our vaccination rollout will proceed smoothly and that we can catch up with other countries.
We think it’s about time we give our health officials a thumbs-up and do away with our cynicism, at least at the moment.